Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Nuclear Issues: U.S. clogs Arab Nuclear-Free Middle East plan

By Fareed Mahdy
Republished courtesy of IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

ISTANBUL (IDN) – Arab delegates to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review conference in New York (May 3-28), are confronted with strong U.S. resistance to their demand for a nuclear weapons free Middle East.

The Arab demand, aimed at eliminating all kinds of weapons of mass destruction including biological and chemical, starting with atomic, is based on the resolution adopted by the 1995 NPT review conference.

An Arab diplomatic source told IDN that the U.S. administration is keen on diverting attention from the NPT negotiations towards its conflict with Iran.

At the same time, “Washington insists on subjecting the Arab demand for a nuclear-free region to the pre-condition that Arab countries declare peace with Israel and recognise the state of Israel, while spelling up only ambiguous words about what would the Arabs and in particular the Palestinians would get in exchange”, said the retired diplomat who was active in Middle East negotiating process, on condition of anonymity.

In addition, the U.S. has also been blocking the Arab demand to convene a UN-sponsored conference by the year 2012, with the participation of all concerned parties, with a view to implementing the 1995 resolution to declare the Middle East a nuclear-free zone, the source added.

“Instead of a conference under the legitimacy of United Nations, Washington is proposing just an international meeting to discuss the Arab demand, the source explained. “This implies depriving at the very outset discussions and possible agreements of the required legitimacy and a binding nature.”

In both cases, “it is more and more evident that the U.S. is determined to block the Arab plan, in a new effort to protect its military and political spearhead – Israel, the only country in the region that possess atomic arsenals.”


The U.S. position also puts in evidence its policy of double-standards in virtue of its own strategies, said the source.

“Washington knows very well that the Arab demand to free the Middle East from atomic weapons is the right solution to dismantle any potential intention from Iran to eventually development nuclear arms.”

In spite of that, the U.S. administration appears to be much more interested in escalating its conflict with Tehran, said the source.

“This is becoming more and more obvious in view of Washington's tenacious plans to impose tougher sanctions on Iran, in spite of its agreement – sponsored by Turkey and Brazil – to exchange, abroad, its low-enriched uranium with fuel for its medicine plant, and place the process under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency.”


In contrast, Washington is eager to protect Israel, which refuses to reveal its secret nuclear programme; rejects demands to join the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, and puts pressure on U.S., European Union (EU) and others, to sanction Iran –which is a NPT signatory – and eventually launch military attacks against it, said the source.

The decision of the U.S. to make approval of the Arab demand of freeing the region from atomic weapons conditional on a prior agreement on a meet Israeli demands “is as unfair as unrealistic,” the source added.

“They (U.S.) know that a definite solution is in their and Israeli hands. There would be nothing more to discuss or to negotiate – it would be enough to implement the relevant UN General Assembly and Security Council resolutions.”


IDN accessed a summary of the official draft that the Arab countries – with strong support from Turkey and the Non-Aligned – have submitted to Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference.

The draft, which the Arabs want to included in the NPT review conference final document, says in its key points:

1.- That the (2010 NPT Review) Conference reaffirms the relevance of the 1995 resolution in relation to the Middle East and the necessity of fully implementing it;.

2.- That the Conference recalls that the 1995 resolution is a fundamental part of that Conference and the base upon which the NPT was extended;

3- That the Parties (participating countries) reaffirm their unequivocal commitment to implement that resolution (Middle East nuclear free-zone);

4- That the Parties, building on the achievements of 2000 NPT Review conference, renew their determination to immediately implement the 1995 resolution;

5.- That (the 2010 NPT Review) Conference recalls that Paragraph 4 of the 1995 resolution calls on Middle East countries who has not done so, with no exception, to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, without delay;

6.- That all countries put all their nuclear facilities under the comprehensive guarantees agreement of the International Atomic Energy Agency;

7.- That the Conference takes note that all Middle East countries, with the exception of Israel, have joined the NPT;

8.- That the Conference, in view of the above, affirms great concern that Israel has not joined the NPT, yet after 15 year since the 1995 NPT Review conference adopted the related resolution;

9.- That the Conference reiterates its call on Israel to immediately join the NPT as a State without nuclear weapons, and to consequently accept an internationally, legally binding commitment not to posses nuclear weapons nor nuclear explosive warheads, as well as accept the comprehensive guarantees agreement and its application on all its nuclear facilities and activities;

10.- That the Conference --on the basis of Article 7-- reiterates its affirmation that a nuclear free-zone in the Middle East would strengthen peace and regional and international security;

11.- That the Conference invites the UN secretary general to organise as soon as possible and not further to year 2012, a conference under the United Nations auspices, to start negotiations aimed at declaring a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East, to be subjected to effective international verification;

12.- That the UN-auspiced conference constitutes an effective step toward the implementation of the 1995 resolution in relation to the Middle East, as well as the UN General Assembly resolution number 66/64, adopted on December 2, 2009, related to risks of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East;

13.- That all Middle east countries, the nuclear states and all concerned parties participate in the above UN-auspiced conference.

The draft that Arab countries insist be included in the 2010 NPT final document on May 28 also emphasizes the need that the Conference express its unwavering support to achieve the universality of the NPT.

The Arab document also calls on the Conference to affirm that the establishment of a zone free of nuclear weapons in the Middle East is an urgent need to achieve that universality.

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